We have exiting news. We made the decision to include Analakely at same level as the 3 others villages Zahana collaborates with. The team has decided that Analakely, a smaller village near Tsaramandroso (our 3rd village) is indeed willing to actively work with us and has very dynamic people living there that are eager to implement our approaches. In total we have now 4 ‘zahana villages’ that actively sought out a cooperation for participatory development with us. This means we now have a 4th tree nursery as well!
In Analakely, the community approached us, because they wanted to collaborate with us on a rice bank. The head of the village has been following our activities with great interest. To prove to us that they are serious, they started to collect rice by themselves for their own rice bank. Once they collected 1 ton and 200 kg, they approached us with the idea. After signing an agreement with us Zahana will added 1 ton of rice that we bought from the community to contribute to the rice bank.
But there is more: They actually increased their amount of community rice to 2 tons. The team decided to match this and Zahana bought an additional ton from the community. We did this with the upcoming ‘époque dure’ (hard times) in mind. With prices rising and the famine in the south of the country, what people in the West call ‘food security’ is a nice euphemism for the fact that people might go hungry in the ‘époque dure’, despite the fact that they are rice farmers growing rice. We took advantage of the fact that the price for rice is lowest right after harvest and bought a second ton that we are now storing in our rice bank. It has a dual purpose: seed stock for the next year and an additional buffer for people to eat, should they go hungry this year.
This is a very exciting development, because it shows to us that one of our very first activities (2006), a rice bank, can be successfully implemented with community wide buy-in.
At the same time our seed bank in Fiarenana ended this season. They have now almost 3 tons in their seed bank, and after over 10 years Zahana will withdraw our initial one ton of rice we had bought to kickstart the seed bank. It is now up to them to sustain the mechanism by themselves if they want.
To address the pending food insecurity in our area, Zahana distributed our ton of ‘Zahana rice’ between our two schools instead of selling it to recoup our investment. This is a prudent choice, because the price of rice has tripled since we bought our initial ton for Fiarenana’s rice bank in 2008.
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